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tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 30, 2019 07:37PM
I now own a basement and that means, unfortunately, that I also own the humidity in the basement. I bought a dehumidifier thats apparently been working 24/7 for the past week and the humidity level has plateaued at 60%. Its been a very rainy week if that matters. Target humidity should be <50%. Oh, the house was built in 1927. While it does have a cement floor, I suspect the real problem is the space beneath the floor but addressing that is likely cost prohibitive. I haven't run the A/C much yet....maybe it will help.

Oh, the goal? Won't finish it, but would like it to be good for storage, a workshop, and maybe some play space for kids.

First order of business is making sure that downspouts and similar are actually carrying water away from the building. The sump pump was previous moving water about 6 feet, its now been extended to 24 feet. I need to look at extending downspouts and checking for proper drainage (gravel!) beneath basement windows. I'm pretty sure there's at least a decent layer of dirt on top.

One option is just buying a second dehumidifier. Maybe it would be a good idea in the short term but I'd prefer getting to the root of the problem.

Thoughts / experiences?



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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: Acer
Date: June 30, 2019 08:22PM
Make sure the sump pump has a good sealing lid to keep water from evaporating back into the basement. Caulk any cracks you find in the walls. Is the basement painted? A coat of UGL Drylock can reduce the travel of moisture through the walls, though if already painted it won't be as effective.

You work to move all water away from the house is important, so keep that up.

But even then, there will be humidity. The dehumidfier may be inevitable, but I hate them because they are expensive to run. I had trouble with mine icing up because the basement was a little too cool. Better models will defrost themselves.

There are rules about properly sizing a dehumidifier. I don't remember the particulars there, google is your friend.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: June 30, 2019 09:17PM
Mound earth against the side of the house so there’s a little slope leading water away from the house-you don’t want the earth to meet the wall at99 degrees.

We built trenches that parallel the side walls, willed with stones/gravel, topped with earth and grass to lead the water away from the house. Aside from one nasty storm combined with a sump pump failure, we’ve been fine.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 30, 2019 09:46PM
Quote
anonymouse1
We built trenches that parallel the side walls, willed with stones/gravel, topped with earth and grass to lead the water away from the house.

How deep were the trenches?



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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: June 30, 2019 10:43PM
Maybe 10” in diameter, maybe an ivmch or two underground. I’ll see if I can pull-ups details.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: June 30, 2019 10:46PM
I got the details wrong. We have a agency drain, running to either a dry well or the paved alley.

[www.landscapingnetwork.com]
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: Don C
Date: June 30, 2019 10:50PM
When I bought this pre-1900 house we had mold throughout the basement and I was told mushrooms were growing in a crawl space. Paneling along the walls guaranteed that water would stay trapped.

This house also "features" a tunnel which runs from the out under the porch steps and sidewalk (which form the top) to a manhole in the public sidewalk. During any rain, this tunnel has a LOT of water running into it.

The day I closed on the house I purchased a dehumidifier. We pulled off the paneling (and all the pegboard that I would have loved to keep) to expose the brick foundation. I have since run two of the downspouts 15' away from the foundation. A shower curtain blocks off some of the cold and heat and hopefully the moisture in the tunnel.

Even with all the fixes, the dehumidifier runs most of the day (during the wet season). It drains into the sump pump; the well is covered but not sealed (I use water from there to water plants). Moving the water from the foundation has really helped in heavy rains; I only have one little spot where water seeps through the bricks (and there is NO REASON for water to be in that spot 5' below the surface and under a deck).

I have just learned to live with the dehumidifier running a lot. Probably should put a meter on it to see how much it is costing every month, but I am not sure I really want to know since I don't have an alternative.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: June 30, 2019 10:58PM
we have a dirt/cement floor in our 1890 house and it's starting to really bug me. I am going to start by doing something about the exterior perimeter that is all dirt and then work toward the interior floor issues. but before that even, I think patching the foundation wall and digging a french drain along the wall will also help. I think if I eliminate most of the exterior infiltration (we have no water issues otherwise), then I think that will go about 80% toward solving our issues. this house really did not have any issues like mold or mildew for its life on this fieldstone foundation.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2019 10:59PM by mrbigstuff.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 30, 2019 11:23PM
>I am going to start by doing something about the exterior perimeter that is all dirt and then work toward the interior floor issues. but before that even, I think patching the foundation wall and digging a french drain along the wall will also help.

I'd definitely like to take that approach, I'm just curious how many dollar signs are attached to it.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: pdq
Date: July 01, 2019 12:26AM
We’ve had pretty good luck just contouring the dirt to slope away from the house, cover the dirt out 4 feet or so with poly, ending in some edging at the interface with grass, then covering the poly with river rock. Even something this simple really helps dry up an old basement.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: Michael
Date: July 01, 2019 05:36AM
I agree with all of the suggestions that moving dirt around the outside first makes the most sense. In our old house we completely fixed a substantial water leak into the garage with that technique.

In our current house we have a basement humidifier that ran a lot. When I put in a new air intake into the basement as part of our HVAC system it largely took care of it. It now runs occasionally. I presume I'm paying a bit more for air conditioning but it's very nice to not have the musty smell in the basement.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: rgG
Date: July 01, 2019 09:04AM
I fought humidity in my old basement for about 25 years. You are right to do everything you can to get the rain water as far away from the house as possible. We did all sorts of things to accomplish that. I still had to run a dehumidifier In the summer, because it is just so humid here, and the basement was not heated/air conditioned. I ran the drain from the humidifier outside the basement, as we did not have a sump pump. I didn’t have to run the humidifier in the winter, just the summer.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 01, 2019 09:26AM
....moist.....



____________________________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: modelamac
Date: July 01, 2019 10:00AM
mattkime,

In addition to what Acer said (and others), cover your sump and close the door to the basement. Air that comes down there from the warmer, moist upstairs just provides more work for your dehumidifier.

That door to the basement is my current problem, as the basement is being remodeled.

I just bought a dehumidifier for the first time in the 53 years we have owned this house. I'm using it as long as there is a tile floor to be laid, drywall to install and mud then paint. When the job is done, I will set it to run at 60% and above. Mold tends to start life at 65% humidity.

My humidifier set on auto and 50% humidity will shut off for about 15 minutes at time, then run for .5 hour, then shut off,.... once 50% is reached. The basement door is open 24/7 during this construction.

I'm still debating whether or not to run the dehumidifier at all during June through September. We have not used on for all these years and have not had any ill effects. No basement leaks and the drainage around the house is great. The whole neighborhood is on sand and gravel, and I have the highest house. I don't have a sump pump because I don't need it.



Mr. Curmudgeon, on several OSes and an ego trip.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: Ammo
Date: July 01, 2019 11:39AM
For those who mentioned trenches, how far away from the foundation are they located?



Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. —Wendy Mass
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: Acer
Date: July 01, 2019 12:06PM
Quote
Ammo
For those who mentioned trenches, how far away from the foundation are they located?

Preferably at the bottom of the slope that you created when you added fill to slope the ground away from the house. That slope should lead farther the better, though I'd say at least 3 feet.
At my place, I just created a shallow swale at the base of said slope to direct the water to a safe location. The swale is very shallow and part of the lawn. But, I live on hilly ground, so i just need to get the water far enough to let the natural slopes finish the job. If you are on a flat lot then french drains, dry wells or more engineered solutions may be in order.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2019 12:08PM by Acer.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: July 01, 2019 10:01PM
You aren't going to get any better than that here in WI with how humid it is outside. I get my basement down to about 45% but only when also running the air conditioner keeping the house at around 74. The dehumidifier runs maybe 25% of the time. It fills a bucket in a day easily, mine has a hose that I ran to the drain and pumps out the water so I don't have to empty it.



C(-)ris
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: Speedy
Date: July 02, 2019 04:43PM
We run our forced air furnace fan 24/7 and set the air conditioner to 76. Keeps the basement about as humid as the ground floor.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: AllGold
Date: July 03, 2019 01:35AM
Speedy, you mean the fan is ON 24/7?



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Re: tell me about your basement humidity battle
Posted by: John B.
Date: July 03, 2019 11:52AM
When I had my HVAC system replaced a couple years ago, the installation company recommended leaving the fan running 24x7 (even "fan only" mode when not heating or cooling)...they said the new fans are DC powered and designed for this level of operation. Also keeps air circulating in the house and running through the system's filtration.

They also said that even when the air conditioning is running in the summer, I'll most likely have to keep the dehumidifier running in the basement.

Having a wall-mounted (shelf) dehumidifier with direct drainage into a utility sink drain lets it run at will without having to worry about emptying it. My basement is half finished, the finished space has closed-cell rigid insulation behind basement board drywall. The rim joist around the perimeter of the basement is spray-foam insulated as well (closed cell). 1950s original block construction on the basement. Humidity is just the way it is.
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